alsoran runners At the finish

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Congratulations!  You’ve made it!  For me, the bit from the time I enter the stadium until I cross the finish line seems to happen in slow motion.  It’s hard to explain quite how I feel.  Initially it is a sense of relief that I don’t have to carry on, that the focus is over, that my body can rest.  Once the medal is around my neck the pain and tiredness just seem to disappear and I almost feel energetic as I make my way from the finish line.  Ahhhh, to relive that moment!  I guess that is what has brought me back year after year.

Here are a few pointers about the ins and outs of the finish

Wear your medal!

As you pass through the finish tunnel you will be issued with a finish card and one of the Comrades volunteers will place your medal around your neck.  Wear it proudly.  Touch it, kiss it, take a good look at it.  The beauty of the Comrades medal lies in its simplicity and size.  It’s a humble medal which I like to think signifies how small we are in the enormity of the Comrades marathon.  It is our proof that we do not have to be mighty to accomplish such and almighty feat, only that as small as we are, we can rise to the occasion and come out the victor within ourselves.

By the way, I always wear my medal the following day!

Finish photos

As you walk through the finish area, there will be many official photographers taking pictures.  Make sure you have one taken of yourself.  Better still, if you finished with a friend (or made a new friend along the way), pose for a picture with them.  You are going to want to show this picture to your grandchildren one day!

Runners refreshments

You will pass through the runners refreshment area where you can get something to eat (usually sandwiches) and something to drink (tea/coffee or soup).  It is a good idea to take something here, especially if you are unsure of where your club tent or family are to be found. 

Collect your tog bag 

Make your way to tog bag security.  They are pretty jacked up at the finish.  They will need to see your tog bag sticker which you hopefully stuck behind your front race number.  Make sure you get your tog bag and not someone elses!

Shower facilities

Makeshift and/or permanent shower facilities are available at the finish.  By the time I finish the water is always cold but for the most part I just want to wash away the salt and sweat from 10 hours plus on the road.  They usually provide some sort of seating to put your bag/towel on.  Quite handy if you are feeling buggered and just need to sit down.  I have seen some runners actually sitting on a chair in the shower!  My hubby always takes a beer with him and relaxes in the showers before making his way back to the club tent.  Another very useful tip is to bring along your toothbrush and toothpaste.  After a day of coke, water, energade, squeezies, oranges etc. you will feel a whole lot better with fresh breath!  The CMA usually has security inside and just outside the shower facilities which is quite useful given that you can shower without having to guard your tog bag at the same time.  In the past I have seen the security helping runners who have fainted or are throwing up.

Depending on your finish time, you may give the showers a miss if you are not feeling too good.  It can also get quite cold at the finish and if you are not feeling up to having a cold shower first it may be a good idea just to get out of your running kit and get some warm clothes on.  All in all I have always found the down run finish (Durban) warmer that the Pietermaritzburg finish.

Dress warmly

Following on from the shower, it is a good idea to dress warmly.  It can get very cold once the sun goes down.  Remember, your body is not in a good state and does not have much fight left in it.  Make sure you pack in some warm clothing and some comfortable slippers or shoes for afterwards.  My friend Linda always puts on her PJs and slippers after the race! (I’m going to have to find a pic for the website!)  A beanie is also a good idea to keep your head warm, especially if you have showered and have wet hair.

Feet up

It is normal to feel lousy (as in nauseous, light headed, tired and sore) after the race.  Just look around you, you will see many other runners looking a lot like you!  The best advice I can give (it works for me) is this.  For nausea, take a sachet of ENO’s with a little water.  One of two things will happen.  Either it will cause you to throw up immediately or it will just stay in your gut and settle it.  Now, having taken the ENO’s, find yourself a spot where you can lie down (use your towel or anything similar to lie on).  Lie down with your feet elevated - I usually just use my tog bag and rest my feet on it.  Just try and relax for at least 10 minutes or so.  You will feel a lot better afterwards.

Rehydrate

After years and years of long distance running I have finally found something that really works for me.  MILK!  I make sure one of the support crew brings along some ice cold milk.  The beauty of milk is that it is very bland.  After a day of all sorts of sweet drinks there is nothing quite like milk.  It is also high in protein which is what your body needs after its long day out.  Needless to say, my hubby Andy drinks beer (he maintains it is bland enough for him).  If you are going to be drinking beer, make sure you are also drinking water/energy drink as alcohol assists with dehydration and you don’t want that now!  But hey, it’s what Andy fantasizes about during the tough sections of the race, he is entitled to live out his fantasy afterwards!

Eat something

Your body’s recovery happens a lot quicker if you have food inside you.  A favourite for me (if available) is hot chips (slap chips).  It is easy to chew, the body is still craving salt and it is a good source of carbohydrate.  Our club tent is pretty organised so there is always sandwiches and soup on offer. 

Watch your bags

Sadly, criminals make their way to the finish and prey on tired runners.  Do not leave your tog bag or any other possessions out of your sight.  Make sure you keep your possessions close to you.  Many a runner has had their tog bag stolen at the finish.  Be mindful of pick-pockets as well.  My daughter Heather had her cell phone pick-pocketed at the finish last year.  The CMA does employ private security and there is quite a large SAP presence but these criminals sometimes disguise themselves as runners which helps them move around the finish undetected.

Drugs

Once you have eaten and are managing to keep your fluids in, you can take something for the pain.  I usually pop a Myprodol or two to ease the weary body.

Wee!

You need to wee within 2 hours of the run.  This way you know that your kidneys are functioning ok.  Kidney failure is VERY SERIOUS so please take care and be aware of how they are functioning after the run.  If you have not been able to wee by the next morning you need to make your way to a doctor soonest.  You could be in big trouble!

These are just some of the things that come to mind.  Most of all, enjoy that wonderful feeling.  Phone a friend!  Call your mum!  And yes, it is OK to be emotional. 

Key words: finish, comrades marathon, medal, refreshments, togbags, photos, dress warmly, rehydrate
Internal links: tog bag security, squeezies,
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website



Copyright Nikki Campbell 2008
alsoran@webafrica.org.za